PHARMACY

Trial for MS drug should continue, company’s DSMB says

BY Alaric DeArment

EDMONTON, Alberta An independent data safety monitoring board has recommended that a phase 3 trial for a multiple sclerosis drug continue.

BioMS Medical Corp. announced Tuesday that the DSMB for its pivotal phase 3 trial of the drug dirucotide in patients with secondary progressive MS has completed its safety analysis and recommended the continuation. This was the fourth of several regularly scheduled reviews by the DSMB, BioMS said.

The study is a randomized, double-blind study that has completed recruitment of more than 500 patients at 67 clinical sites who will receive either dirucotide or placebo intravenously every six months for the next two years.

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Sullivan University welcomes first class of pharmacy students

BY Alaric DeArment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. Sullivan University’s College of Pharmacy welcomes its inaugural class of 74 doctor of pharmacy candidates Friday in a ceremony at Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Hotel, the university announced.

Founding dean Hieu Tran will address the event, along with the university’s chancellor and president. Humana vice president for pharmacy and clinical integration William Fleming will deliver the keynote speech. Walmart Stores is sponsoring the ceremony, which begins at 5 p.m.

“The White Coat Ceremony represents a symbol of responsibility that students will carry throughout their professional life at the service and care for their patients and those in need,” Tran said in a statement.

The class will graduate in 2011.

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Maricopa County offers employees onsite health center, pharmacy

BY Antoinette Alexander

PHOENIX Worksite clinics continue to grow in popularity as employers look for ways to curb soaring healthcare costs and instill a renewed focus on employee productivity. Recognizing the benefits such clinics provide, Maricopa County has become the first employer in Arizona to offer an integrated onsite pharmacy and health center through a partnership with Take Care Health Systems.

The new Take Care Health Center and Walgreens pharmacy, located at the downtown County Administration Building, will serve the county’s 12,500 employees and their dependents.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is slated for Jan. 13 in the County Administration Building. Several county officials will be on hand to discuss to the importance of the worksite clinic and pharmacy and its benefit to Maricopa County.

“Any time, but especially during these difficult economic times, it is vitally important for Maricopa County to improve employee health and lower expenses for the county and its employees,” said Mike Schaiberger, director of employee health initiatives and administrator of innovation for Maricopa County. “We expect the integrated Walgreens pharmacy and Take Care Health Center to reduce county costs by $575,000 while improving the health, satisfaction and productivity of our employees.”

The center, which will be staffed by a nurse practitioner who will provide treatment for acute, episodic conditions and administer vaccinations, and the pharmacy will be open Monday through Friday.

“Maricopa County recognizes the benefits a comprehensive onsite health care and pharmacy program can provide to employees, offering both convenience and cost savings,” said Peter Hotz, Walgreens divisional VP and president of Take Care Health Employer Solutions. “We look forward to addressing the county’s health care and pharmaceutical needs while helping to reduce costs and increase employee productivity and satisfaction.”

The county has worked with Walgreens Health Initiatives for more than six years to deliver pharmacy benefit management and other healthcare services to county employees and dependents.

The ideal client for a worksite clinic is an employer with 1,000 or more employees at a site, and, as reported in a recent issue of Drug Store News magazine, industry sources suggest that the market could bear as many as 5,000 worksite clinics.

“We are certainly less than 10 percent of the market right now and if we are the biggest that means there is a heck of a lot of market still left to go in terms of the traditional worksite model,” Hotz told Drug Store News during an interview in fall 2008. Take Care Employer Solutions is the division of Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems that operates well over 300 worksite clinics.

Also representing an opportunity are those smaller employers who opt to team up to form coalitions to establish and share a facility.

A recent study by global consulting firm Watson Wyatt found that nearly one-third (29 percent) of companies have or plan to have an onsite health center by 2009, up from 27 percent in 2006. A separate Watson Wyatt study of 84 companies with onsite healthcare centers found that reducing medical costs was the chief reason 70 percent of companies have opened a center since 2000 (recent adopters).

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